Frustratingly, despite me going further South and with how warm it was yesterday, I wake up this morning to a grey sky and a chill in the air. Biggest issue is that most of my warm clothes are now dirty and I have to scramble together an outfit that will survive. I decide to hope that the weather will improve since it apparently looked miserable in the morning yesterday too (it does, but not nearly as much as I would like).
Today the hostel offers a free shuttle to locations in the down town area at 9:30, so I figure I’ll hop on that to have a look around. Before that, I grab breakfast, which seems to be the staple of American morning meals – bagels, fruit and porridge, and sit back in the back area for the driver.
9:30 comes and goes – driver’s running a little late.
By 9:55 I go to the reception who are surprised to see me. The bus has already gone. I’m very confused as I’d been in the back the whole time, and hadn’t heard any of the calling of names I was supposed to expect. Admittedly I was around the corner from where the guy entered (they just told me ‘wait in the back’) but he’s supposed to walk around to get everyone.
Anyway, with the free way cut off, I decide I’ll go to down town to explore myself. The bus stop for the 923 into down town is just down the street, and I can get a day pass for $5.
Except I can’t, because you also have to pay $2 for the card, which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Apparently the permanent travel card costs $2, and you can put a day pass on that, but for a single days travel, you have to pay the price of a permanent cad on top of the day ticket. And frankly, if it’s cheaper to buy a day pass than use the permanent card to do multiple trips, you’re doing travel cards wrong San Diego!
Honestly, I let myself get a little worked up, and I don’t know why. I think my brain was just looking for ways to get agitated, because by the time I arrived Down town, I can feel a bad headache curling up in my head, as well as raindrops. Figure I should maybe go shopping for some jeans given that the weather’s clearly not going to be as nice as it was the day before, and I’ve been dropped off by Horton Plaza, home to a fairly nice shopping centre. To my disappointment, there’s no discount stores, but there is a Hot Topic.
With sales and discounts.
Which are stackable.
In the end, I don’t find any decent jeans, but do walk out with a new galaxy print dress, some Disney leggings, a Jurassic Park tee, Wonder Woman exercise trousers and slightly more jewellery than I should. None of it is useful for now, but its definitely made me feel better.
After wandering around the Gas Quarter for a while, I eventually decide I’ll head up to Balboa Park with my bus pass and check out the area. Not planning to hit the zoo, but some of the museums might be worth a look – especially since the weather is staying quite thoroughly in ‘grey.’
Unfortunately, even with a dose of painkillers, my headache is getting worse, so walking around reading things doesn’t sound like a great idea. Instead, I figure I’ll walk around and see if it clears up.
My plan is to wander up to the zoo then back down again, since the zoo is more or less the furthest point from where I am, which also gives me a chance to check out the park.
Declared a park in 1868, Balboa’s current look was mostly inspired by the World’s Fair held in 1915, in which several of the buildings were originally built. The park has had a coloured life, starting as a recreational park, only to be regularly commandeered by the military as training grounds for world wars. Over the last 50 years or so, more and more buildings have popped up on the grounds, until there were about 16 different museums scattered throughout the park, all with varying themes, from Fine Art all the way down to Model Trains. If you can’t find at least one to entertain you here, you’re not trying hard enough.
I do give the San Diego museum a quick look along the way, since it’s free, as well as the botanical garden, but by the time I make it to the zoo, it’s clear I wont be doing much more today. My head is killing me, and my entire body feels exhausted. I’ll later chalk this up to doing too much typing on my tablet over the last few days, but for now I’m really ready to head back to the hostel and just lie in bed for a few hours.
That said, I do decide that I want to see at least one museum before I leave, or it’s going to feel like a waste of a day. As I wander back, the one that drew my interest the most was the History of Man Museum, which costs about $13 to enter, and just under $20 if I chose to go see the temporary cannibal exhibit across the road. I only have about 60 minutes before they close, so have to give the place a quick runaround as much as I can.
The museum is on two floors, but focuses more on social history rather than society in general. On the right is a section on the history of making beer, while on the left is a section on monsters in different communities.
Of course, the biggest attraction on this floor is the plaster casts of Stelae from Quirigua, Guatamala, cast for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. Each tells a story of the Mayan history of the region, and they’re more than a little impressive to take in. In fact, thanks to erosion since their casting, they’re often used by historians instead of the originals since the details have not been eroded on the casts as they have on the originals back in Guatamala.
On the second floor there’s a section on mummies and Egypt, although there are almost no mummies on display, thanks to new procedures at the museum that doesn’t allow displaying the dead without permission from the descendants, which is a rule I think most museums should be following all things considered. They also have an area looking at eugenics and genes, regarding how ‘white’ culture and the concept of superior race is completely ridiculous. It’s right next to a collection of plaster cast heads, which were made over 100 years ago, taken from people of different ethnicities in San Diego at the time, although the history of these people is unknown.
There are tree additional sections on the top floor, one looking at the local native American people, the Kumeyaay, a section regarding our relationship with animals (pets and livestock), and another which I found the most interesting. It’s regarding an experiment performed several years ago called Post Secret, where a man sent out blank postcards and asked someone to write a secret on them anonymously, and send it in. He got dozens of replies, even after the experiment is over, and they’ve been catalogued both online and in this exhibit. Some of the ones on display are hard to take, but it’s a really fascinating to look at all of these pieces of paper and realise each one is something a person hides…and how many are so similar to one another.
It takes about 40-50 minutes to go through the museum, so by the time I’m heading over to the Cannibal Exhibit I know I have to rush. Although thankfully my head is starting to clear up so I can at least rush through with minimal pain.
The exhibit mostly looks at the myths behind cannibalism and how they began. Naturally, white people started most of them, thanks to a ruling in England regarding colonies – civilians got rights, but cannibals didn’t. So it was generally in the explorers best interests to declare certain tribes cannibals, even when there’s no proof. Even now, its hard to tell if which, if any of certain cultures did practice.
There’s also a section regarding known cannibalism, since just about every culture has some practice of it, including British royalty – there was a King known to drink powdered skulls. Heck, European medicine had plenty of body parts in it for a while. It’s only been in the last few hundred years that the idea suddenly started becoming immoral.
One of the final sections also includes a documentary about the infamous plane crash in which the survivors had to eat the dead in order to survive, but thanks to my time limit, I could only watch a small part of it before heading onwards. Really wish I’d had just another 10 minutes to enjoy the museum entirely, but at least the day was something of a success.
As I’m making my way back to the down town however, I decide to take a quick detour when google maps pops up a possibly place of interest. Specifically, some kind of gourmet dessert cafe – the photos are enough to make me take a look, and I pop into ‘Extraordinary Desserts’ to see what’s on offer.
Sitting down is definitely not an option, too fancy for me, but the cakes at the take out section have my jaw dropping. They all look amazing – I want to take everything home. In the end, I let myself indulge and take a lemon tart, a pastry and a chocolate bundt cake home. Each of them is amazingly decorated – and I have to laugh. Last week in Whistler I was living off noodles, while today I’m eating chocolate cake decorated with edible gold and rose petals. What a life.